Election counters continue with reconciliation process

COUNTING officials in the three counting centres in Bougainville are still continuing with the reconciliation of ballots.

According to the Acting Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, Mr George Manu, the purpose of this process is to check if ballot papers were deposited into wrong ballot boxes during the polling period.

During polling, voters were instructed to deposit the ballot papers into two ballot boxes.

Ballots for the presidential seat were deposited into one box while ballots for the regional women, former combatants and constituency seats were deposited into another box.

The reconciliation arrangement started on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to continue to tomorrow (Thursday 28.05.15).

The sorting of ballots for the constituencies in Central Bougainville is currently taking place at the Sharp Memorial Youth Centre in Arawa, while sorting for constituencies in South Bougainville is being held at the United Church building in Buin town.

The sorting of ballots for the constituencies in North Bougainville is being conducted at the Hutjena secondary school hall in Buka.

“During the reconciliation process, counters are not allowed to check the preferences on the ballots. Their task is to only look for any misplaced ballot papers,” said Mr Manu.

Once all the sorting arrangements is completed, all ballot boxes from Central and South Bougainville containing ballot papers for the presidential seat will be transferred to the counting centre at Hutjena secondary school.

Counting will commence after the completion of the reconciliation process.

Mr Manu said he anticipates that the scrutiny of presidential ballots will commence this Friday.

He added that though the counting process will be complex and laborious, this was adopted with paramount interest of safeguarding the vote of all Bougainvilleans who voted, and to ensure that each and every single vote is counted.

“I therefore ask for patience and restraint during this time. Counting will take place around the clock, with multiple shifts each day until the scrutiny is finished, or June 7, which ever comes first,”

According to reports from the returning officers from the three counting centres, they have already completed sorting out ballots from the Bougainvilleans Outside Bougainville (BOB) and the Bougainvilleans Inside Bougainville (BIB) ballot boxes.

They are now sorting the ballots collected from the different polling places established in the 33 constituencies in Bougainville during the polling period.

BOB polling was conducted in five centres in the country including Port Moresby, Lae, Madang, Rabaul and Goroka.

The BIB special polling place was established in Buka, Arawa and Buin.

The BOB and BIB was established in accordance with the Special Voting Service arrangement introduced by the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner to provide Bougainvilleans not living in their constituency the opportunity to cast their votes during the election.